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Electronic Tagging

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

8 Apr 1998 : Column WA133

Lord Williams of Mostyn: (a) The number of people sentenced to a curfew order during the pilots at 3 April 1998 are as follows. Some offenders have served more than one curfew sentence.


    Cambridgeshire13


    Suffolk7


    Norfolk279


    Greater Manchester699


    Berkshire87


    West Yorkshire12


    Middlesex18

(b) No information is currently collated centrally about the ethnic origin of offenders made subject to a curfew order under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 in the pilot areas. However, we are at present seeking tenders for the provision of electronic monitoring services throughout England and Wales, and those contractors will be required to monitor the ethnic origin of all those they supervise.

Kosovo

Lord Russell-Johnston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will convene, in co-operation with the United States, an international conference, with an open agenda involving both the Yugoslav Government and the parallel governmental structures headed by President Ibrahim Rugova, to seek urgently a peaceful solution of the Kosovan crisis which guarantees the human rights and freedoms of all individuals and groups within the region.[HL1040]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We have no plans to convene such a conference. However, Her Majesty's Government have played a leading role both in the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia and in the European Union in seeking to persuade the Government in Belgrade and the leaders of the Kosovar Albanians, including Dr. Rugova, urgently to begin a meaningful dialogue, without preconditions, on the future status of Kosovo. Her Majesty's Government firmly believe that the Kosovo crisis can only be satisfactorily resolved through dialogue and, in conjunction with their partners in the Contact Group, have made clear to both sides their willingness to help facilitate such a process.

Dependent Territories: Ministerial Responsibilities

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the ministerial responsibilities in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in light of the recent review of dependent territories.[HL1484 ]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As the Foreign Secretary made clear in his speech to the Dependent Territories Association on 4 February, I am the Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with overall responsibility for the United Kingdom Overseas Territories. As Gibraltar is the only Overseas Territory within the EU, the bulk of the work on Gibraltar will continue to be handled by the European Departments reporting directly to the Minister for Europe, Mr. Henderson. However, I will be responsible for generic Overseas Territory issues which affect Gibraltar.

Congo Brazzaville

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What discussion there has been in the European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy Working Group on Human Rights concerning alleged summary and arbitrary executions, arbitrary detention and attacks on defenders of human rights in Congo Brazzaville since the violent assumption of power by Dennis Sassou Nguesso on 15 October 1997; what measures are being taken by the European Union to assist in the return of that country to constitutional rule; and what view they take of the position under international law of Angolan armed forces still in that country.[HL1206]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Common Foreign and Security Policy Africa Working Group (AWG) discussed the situation in Congo Brazzaville most recently on 3 April 1998.

The EU has noted Sassou Nguesso's creation of a National Forum for Unity Democracy and the Reconstruction of the Republic of the Congo and his plans for the re-establishment of democracy. The EU remains concerned both at the continued presence of Angolan troops and about the proposed transition programme. The EU will press Sassou Nguesso on the need for an inclusive political progress.

Separately, while noting that Sassou Nguesso has approached the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate alleged genocide crimes, the EU also intends to raise its concerns about the human rights violations at the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

The European Commission has designated 12 million ecu for humanitarian aid in Congo Brazzaville, which is being distributed through European Commission Humanitarian Operations (ECHO).

NATO

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the United States proposals for the "transformation" of NATO described by President Clinton and quoted in the International Herald Tribune of 17 December 1997

8 Apr 1998 : Column WA135

    into a globally active and United States-led organisation; and whether this transformation is to be developed within NATO's new Strategic Concept.[HL1257] [25 March]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer I gave him on 12 January (Official Report, col. WA 124) and to the Written Answer my noble friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement gave him on 22 January to his Question on the terms of reference of the review of NATO's Strategic Concept (Official Report, col. WA 265).

The High Seas and Military Action

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention permits the use of the high seas for military action, other than in accordance with a United Nations Security Council Resolution or in self-defence.[HL1307]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The use of force, including in self-defence, is governed by general international law and in particular the Charter of the United Nations. The freedom of the high seas, which is codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, includes freedom of navigation for military vessels and the right to engage in lawful military activities.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will seek to persuade the Governments of Commonwealth countries which have accepted the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (giving competence to the Human Rights Committee in individual cases) to uphold the Protocol.[HL1290]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The EU made a demarche to the Jamaican Government on 5 January, requesting that it reconsider its decision to withdraw from the First Optional Protocol. We are now considering how best to continue our dialogue with Jamaica. We would consider making similar demarches to any other country which announced its intention to withdraw from the First Optional Protocol.

British Mandate in Palestine

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the reply given to Lord Chesham on 30 July 1997 (H.L. Deb., col. 169), how they are intending to mark the anniversary of the ending of the British mandate in Palestine. [HL1264]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As I indicated in the House on 30 July, the Government do not at present propose to commemorate the end of the mandate, and since there is already substantial British aid, directly and through the EU, to the Palestinian authority, there are no proposals to mark the anniversary by increasing our bilateral assistance to them.

Statutory Instruments

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many pieces of United Kingdom secondary legislation and how many pieces of European Union secondary legislation came into force in 1997.[HL1344]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Three thousand, one hundred and fourteen statutory instruments were made in 1997, of which 1,663 were general instruments. It is not known how many of these were to implement European Union legislation, but, in 1996, 80 of the 1,832 general instruments were for that purpose. One thousand, eight hundred and forty-five pieces of secondary legislation were made by the EU institutions in 1997, but a further 1,124 such pieces were repealed or expired leaving a net increase of 721.

Euro-X Committee

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the terms of reference of the so-called Euro-X Committee; and what is its treaty base in the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam.[HL1394]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The terms of reference of the Euro-X committee are set out in the Luxembourg European Council conclusions. Euro-X is an informal committee and has no base in either the Treaty of Maastricht or the Treaty of Amsterdam.

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the relationship between the Euro-X Committee and the Economic and Financial Committee established by Article 109C2 of the Treaty of Maastricht.[HL1395]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Economic and Financial Committee will be a formal body of the EU, established under the Treaty which sets out its scope and functions in detail. These do not include any reference to Euro-X, which is an informal body to be established by the countries participating in the euro in line with the conclusions of the Luxembourg European Council.

8 Apr 1998 : Column WA137


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